ATLANTA (Reuters) - A suburban Atlanta fire that killed four young siblings late Tuesday was caused by their 6-year-old brother playing with a lighter, authorities said Friday.
The 6-year-old boy, who survived, would not be prosecuted, Rockdale County Fire and Rescue Chief Daniel Morgan told a news conference, declining to name the boy.
“This was a tragic event, so we want to make sure that this 6-year-old gets the help he needs,” Morgan said.
There were no smoke detectors upstairs and the one detector downstairs was inoperable, Morgan told reporters.
The mother and her five children were sleeping upstairs when she awoke to find the home engulfed in flames, said Jennifer Edwards, spokeswoman for the city of Conyers, Georgia, where the blaze occurred.
“She heard her children screaming,” Edwards said on Wednesday.
The mother tried unsuccessfully to save four of her children, an 8-month-old girl and three boys ages 3, 7 and 9, the spokeswoman said. Finally, she threw the 6-year-old son out of a second-floor window to escape the fire and jumped out after him, Edwards said.
The mother was hospitalized with burns on 40 percent of her body, Edwards said. The surviving boy also was hospitalized.
A grandmother who was sleeping downstairs at the time of the fire also managed to escape.
“When she woke up and heard her daughter screaming, she went to the stairs but they were on fire,” Edwards said. “She couldn’t get up the stairs so she went out the front door.”
Editing by Daniel Trotta, Gary Hill